No one in American politics understands the dark art of ridicule better than Donald Trump. (“Welcome to the race, Sleepy Joe.”) And when it comes to seeing himself on the receiving end, nobody in American politics has a thinner skin. His fury at President Barack Obama’s roasting of him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner may have motivated his own run for the presidency.More recently, his sensitivity to ridicule has been on sharp display in his seething reaction to Alec Baldwin’s running impression over the past three years on “Saturday Night Live.”
Baldwin has carved out a late-career niche as the nation’s highest-profile interpreter of Trump. For most viewers, his performance, all preening and bluster, has settled into comedy-staple territory. And for most presidents, rolling with SNL’s punches is just another part of the job. Neither is true for this particular viewer-in-chief. The performance gets further under Trump’s skin with each passing season.
“Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!” he tweeted on October 16, 2016, three weeks before winning the election. By early 2018, safely ensconced in the White House, Trump was still taking it personally: “Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch.”
This year, Trump was back decrying the unfairness of it all, to the point of calling for an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission. “Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution.”